8 January 1843: Malaga's bourgeoisie launches cultural society

The building now houses the Sala Unicaja María Cristina theatre.
The building now houses the Sala Unicaja María Cristina theatre. / SUR
  • The opening of the city's first Artistic, Scientific and Literary Lyceum took place on 8 January 1843 in the old Franciscan convent that is still used for concerts today

In the first half of the 19th century, Andalucía saw the appearance of a new type of cultural organisation. As in the rest of Spain, Paris-influenced 'liceos' were established by the new bourgeoisie, looking for different means to make their political and economic boom more visible.

The new lyceums, uniting athenaeum societies, academies, casinos and business circles, were indeed select clubs where arts, sports and politics were especially cultivated.

On 8 January 1843, the Liceo Artístico, Científico y Literario (Artistic, Scientific and Literary Lyceum) was inaugurated in Malaga. The lyceum began in a section of the Madres Reparadoras residence, a building that doesn't exist today, and partly in the old Franciscan convent in the Plaza de San Francisco, where nowadays the Sala Unicaja María Cristina concert hall is located.

The inauguration ceremony began at 12 noon with the attendance of some five hundred people, including the then mayor of Malaga, Pedro Gómez Sancho.

For five years he had held the position of municipal councillor, and was known for espousing liberal views and policies in the local magazine El Guadalhorce. In his inaugural speech, the mayor stressed that the new institution was created due to the interest of people from Malaga in arts, and he hoped that the lyceum would encourage more people in the city to devote themselves to painting, poetry, music, literature, theatre and even journalism.

That evening, the Malaga audience was entertained by Scottish folklore. The performance of a tragic opera in three acts 'Lucía de Lammermoor' based upon Sir Walter Scott's 1819 historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor and composed by Gaetano Donizetti, was the second part of the inauguration at 7pm.

The Artistic, Scientific and Literary Lyceum of Malaga eventually became the most representative institution on the Malaga cultural scene, encompassing all the artistic, literary, musical and journalistic movements of the time.

Another literary event to take place on 8 January, but this time in 1870, was the launch of the first issue of the satirical newspaper Las Escobas. It was directed by Teobaldo Nieva, a Malaga-born publicist, journalist and anarchist, who was considered as a bohemian of extraordinary talent and encyclopaedic knowledge. He was a pioneer of highlighting feminist issues and used to touch upon the topic of the mission of the women in the society of the future.